SPQR Italian-inspired restaurant in San Francisco, California

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SPQR HeartHeart
Restaurants and bars
San Francisco
Open: Lunch Sat - Sun, dinner daily
Price: Moderate

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Phone Number: +1 415 771 7779
Address: 1911 Fillmore St
San Francisco, California, 94115
Country: United States

SPQR is a very pleasant neighbourhood restaurant serving Italian-inspired dishes of remarkable freshness and intensity in a pleasant wood-themed space with old airline and film posters adorning the walls. The food is supported by an interesting wine program with some unusual offerings from Lazio completing the Roman theme.
Let's start with the name. SPQR are the initials which used to be found in ancient Rome on the standards of the centurions and on public buildings. It is a Latin saying (Senatus Populusque Romanus) that roughly translates to "The Senate and people of Rome" and possibly alludes to the food and wine being influenced by the Lazio region in which Rome is situated.
The menu is divided into three broad sections. There are smaller dishes in the Antipasti section (divided into cold dishes, hot dishes and deep-fried dishes), some mid-sized plates in the Antipasti Grande section and then a grouping of pasta dishes. The menu stresses that ingredients are locally sourced and sustainable whenever possible.
The first antipasto dish we tried was tuna conserve with ceci beans (chick peas or garbanzo beans), herbs and grated bottarga. The tuna was nicely preserved and the dish was light and fresh being lifted by the careful use of the freshest herbs. The flavour was intensified with the addition of the grated mullet roe called bottarga.
Four house-cured sardines draped in thin slivers of fennel and preserved lemon formed the next antipasto. The sardines were soft and fresh and full of sardine flavour.
From the fried section we chose the pigs ears with a small dish of whole grain mustard. These were crunchy and unctuous and a riot of flavour.
We followed this with an Antipasto Grande of bay scallops with fried broccoli, chillies and lemon which was a very good dish with lovely flavours. This was followed by the Spaghetti Carbonara that is made in the traditional way with guanciale rather than bacon (guanciale being cured pigs cheek). This was a great dish with the slivers of cheek helping to define the dish and round out the flavour that was completed with grinding of the freshest of black pepper. Softness was provided by the egg and pecorino.
The desserts really shine here. An almond milk granita with a light-as-air espresso crema was a defining dish that should be tried by aspiring dessert chefs to see what can be done with care and skill in the kitchen! A rice budino with dates and pistachio nuts was another revelatory dish.
SPQR is a restaurant that food lovers will be very happy to visit.

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